Skim by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki

SkimSkim is a graphic novel by cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki. It covers the issues of growing up, and about being gay at that. As the cousins grew up in Canada, there’s also a touch on growing up with Asian ethnicity in Canada.

The style of illustration is one of the most unique I have ever seen. Jillian Tamaki definitely brought her Japanese influences into her drawings. It reminds me of Japanese old paintings with its fluid lines. Not only that, the main character is also one of the most unique in graphic novels, or any medium really.

She is Kimberly Keiko who is called Skim, a Japanese descendant girl, who is chubby, gothic, and a bit into witchcraft. One of her popular schoolmates committed suicide and it was rumored that he did so because he was gay. It caused an uproar in the school and the students and teachers work on “save life” campaigns (of which the use is arguable). Meanwhile Skim has her own problems. She happens to have a crush on her female teacher, which forces her to question and figure out her sexuality.

The book captures the moodiness of adolescence, which is probably the most difficult phase of anyone’s life, when everything doesn’t seem to make sense and you don’t quite know where to put yourself. It touches on the issues of depression, love, peer pressure, sexual identity, and just the whole the pain of being young and different.

Skim is rather sad and melancholy, but I think it is an important book to understand what the teenagers might be facing in our time. Also, it would be a perfect book for GLBT challenge (IF I were joining :). Talking about GLBT challenge, Nymeth recently posted about her recommendation for LGBTQ graphic novels on the challenge site. Michelle also just recently posted her review on Pedro and Me by Judd Winick which sounds fabulous. I have Fun Home by Alison Bechdel waiting be read at home. It’s so great how graphic novel is used as medium to discuss serious issues. I hope and feel positive that we will have more in the future.

Sample of illustrations:

2008, 140 pp

Authors’ Sites
Mariko Tamaki
Jillian Tamaki

Awards (from Jillian’s site)
2008 Ignatz Award for Best Graphic Novel
2008 New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books List
2009 Doug Wright Award Winner, Best Book
2009 Eisner award nominee (Best Publication for Teens, Writer, New Graphic Album, Penciller/Inker)
2008 Best of Books of the Year, Publishers WeeklyQuill & Quire

Graphic Novels 2010 (book #4), Book Awards IV (book #3), Women Unbound (fiction #6)

Also reviewed by
Regular Rumination | In Spring it is the Dawn | The Written World | Chasing Ray | A Striped Armchair | Stuff as Dreams are Made On

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16 thoughts on “Skim by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki”

  1. I’ve put this book on hold at my library for some time now, and it looks like I’ll be able to get it out during my next library trip. So I’m really glad you enjoyed it. The illustrations do feel a little japanese-y, especially the bottom right face of the second image.

    I actually find it quite interesting how the graphic novel has become such a powerful tool to get serious issues across. It definitely feels a lot more accessible than the typical novel or non-fiction book. Which is good, because it just means that it gets to a more diverse audience.

    1. I was just about to tell you that I found Pedro and Me JUST now when I went to the library today! So I’ll be reading it in the next few weeks :).

      I agree about the accessibility of graphic novels. For some books I even feel that they work very well because they’re graphic novels and it probably wouldn’t have worked as well if they were normal text books.

  2. I loved Skim so much! I just thought it was great and it’s been a while now, so I’m going to be fairly inarticulate about why this book is awesome other than, you know, it’s AWWWWWWWWWWESOME. I could just relate to Skim about a lot of things, about being overweight in high school, on the outside and just generally confused about everything. Also, I wish high school had been that beautiful, ha!
    .-= [Lu´s last blog: In the Woods by Tana French] =-.

    1. Her high school looks beautiful, isn’t it? What with the falling leaves and romantic-looking park. Mine was so far away from that, ha! It is awesome that you are so passionate about the book Lu :)

    1. I really thought you had read it! I even looked for your review specifically from your blog because I couldn’t find it from my reader. Then I thought maybe you just didn’t review it. Apparently you haven’t read it. Big surprise! :)

    1. Kay, I’ve been wanting to read Blankets forever, but my libraries don’t have it and it’s quite pricey to buy because it’s such a thick graphic novel! I hope to read it someday somehow :)

  3. I just finished it recently and like you, thoroughly enjoyed it. I did think the artwork look especially Japanese influenced, but I’m not sure what you meant by “there’s also a touch on growing up with Asian ethnicity in Canada.” Asides from the artwork, I didn’t see anything about that. This is not a challenge against you, I’m just wondering if I missed something.
    .-= [John Mutford´s last blog: Japan Memoirs in Haiku] =-.

    1. John, thanks for visiting. When I wrote the sentence, I had in mind specifically of the scene where the two Asian girls were locked out on the porch. It is very subtle but it made me question a couple of things. Why were they left out? Was it because they looked different? In what way? Was it their costumes? Was it their bodies? (overweight? short?) Their faces? (black hair? slanted eyes?) It’s one of the scenes that got burnt in my head.

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